18m views and counting for the Mayda-produced animation for Google Creative Works & Nissan, where branded content crosses over into culturally-relevant entertainment.

Automaker Nissan recently took a massive gamble: To promote its new electric Ariya SUV, the car company began running a four-hour ad on YouTube. What could have led to outrage instead became a viral success, attracting more than 17 million views and thousands of positive comments.

“This is how commercials should be,” reads one of those comments, while another commenter exclaims: “I didn’t even notice this was an ad! I love it so much.”

The secret to Nissan’s success was that the ad was specifically produced for a popular YouTube channel: Lofi Girl, a 24/7 livestream of relaxing instrumental beats, accompanied by the animated video of a girl penning notes while a cat peacefully naps in the background. Nissan’s ad not only uses a similar soundtrack, but also a closely aligned aesthetic. The video features an animation of a woman driving through a beautiful countryside, very occasionally passing subtly placed billboards for the Nissan Ariya. 

Nissan worked with Google on the original idea for the ad, which then partnered with Titmouse and the New York-based creative studio The Mayda Creative Co. on development and execution. Lydia Corin, Mayda’s director of creative partnerships, credits the close alignment with YouTube’s Lofi Girl channel for the ad’s success. “We knew who the audience was from the beginning,” she says. “We built something incredibly impactful that is part of culture and doesn’t disrupt it.”

A little more than two months after its debut, the ad has now become the second-most-popular video on Nissan USA’s YouTube channel. Judging from the number of commenters who say they added it to their playlists, it may be well on its way to taking the top spot. 

Read the full article on Fast Company